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Les Carnets D’Emeraude Returns

After a pause of more than 20 years, RTBF reintroduced the program in January

Patrick Bauwens returns with Les Carnets D’Emeraude on Classic 21.

On Jan.15 “Les Carnets D’Emeraude” returned to the airwaves of the Belgian French-language public broadcaster RTBF, offering a point of reflection each Sunday at midnight to kick off the work week.

Les Carnets D’Emeraude (“The Emerald Book”) began airing on RTBF’s “Radio 21” in 1987 on Sunday afternoons, offering an hour of relaxing music in between the up-tempo format programs of Radio 21. In 1995 presenter/producer Patrick Bauwens decided to leave RTBF to pursue new horizons, the network halted the program, after more than 400 hours of broadcasts.

“In 2004, when Radio 21 became Classic 21, I returned to the station as freelance presenter,” explains Bauwens, who, since 1995 continued to carry out content research and (off-air) production for the broadcaster.

“At the time, my program was among the most-copied-on-cassette, and today, the unique program formula is in high audience demand,” he continued.

Marc Ysaye, station manager at Classic 21, suggested that the network relaunch the program. Every broadcast of Les Carnets D’Emeraude kicks off with a text sequence, a reflection, a poem or a discussion. “The musical part consists of a slow-tempo eclectic mix of jazz, classical and electronic music. “I harvest much material from Manfred Eicher’s ECM label, with artists like Keith Jarrett, Pat Metheny, Lyle Mays and Egberto Gismonti — artists you don’t get to hear on mainstream radio,” said Bauwens.

Bauwens disagrees with the idea that Les Carnets D’Emeraude is a niche program, eyeing jazz or classical music lovers. “The program attracts a broad audience mix of all ages and social classes — today, thanks to the RTBF’s Auvio platform [a new web-portal, offering RTBF’s three TV channels and the five RTBF radio stations] and ‘radio on demand,’ where listeners can also stream the midnight broadcasts on their PC as well as listening to it live on Sunday nights.”

The program is produced at Bauwens’s studio where he stocks an inventory of more than 6,000 albums. Bauwens uses a Mackie 1604 console and a combination of vintage Celestion Ditton 33 and Mission 751 monitor speakers to record the program using MAC Deck 3.5 software. “That’s the combination I like to work with — maybe somewhat old school,” he laughed.

Les Carnets D’Emeraude airs on Sundays at midnight on Classic 21 and online.